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Broker Commission Fee Schedule Comparison

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Thinking about investing in some securities? Well you’re going to need a brokerage account. While it’s hard to compare the qualitative differences between each brokerage, it’s easy to compare one of the big quantitative differences – fee schedules. So, below I’ll compare the fee schedules of each of the major brokerages in easy to understand language and hopefully it’ll make your decision just that much easier. In the discussion below, I only talk about online trades – no phone or in person (broker-assisted) transactions.

TradeKing – Two time winner (2007 and 2006) if Smart Money’s best discount brokerage award, TradeKing leads the pack with its $4.95/trade commission schedule. I have yet to hear any bad things about this brokerage.

TD Ameritrade – TD Waterhouse and Ameritrade recently combined to form TD Ameritrade and they lowered many of their fees. Market and limit orders are $9.99 regardless of your trading frequency. I use TD Ameritrade for my Roth IRA because they have the lowest fees of the brokerages I looked at (at the time).

ETrade – ETrade recently acquired BrownCo, which had $5 real time trades, and they have a tiered fee schedule. If you have less than $50k and trade fewer than 29 times a quarter, it’s $12.99 each. If you make over 1500 trades (wow), it’s only $6.99 each.

Vanguard – Known for the performance of their mutual funds, Vanguard has pretty hefty fees. An online trade costs a whopping $25, or 0.025 per share (whichever is greater). My Roth IRA used to be at Vanguard but I felt the interface was a little too dated (slow, clunky), they may have since improved it (they’ve overhauled their website). My SEP-IRA is here because I can invest in Vanguard funds.

Fidelity – Also known for their mutual funds, second only to perhaps Vanguard, Fidelity has $19.99 trades in a tiered schedule as well.

ShareBuilder – Sharebuilder is a little different than the other brokerage houses, the idea with them is that you’re constantly investing small amounts, dollar cost averaging, in various securities. It’s $4 if you schedule your purchases (always onto a Tuesday) and it’s $15.95 if you want real time trading (all sales are real time). Limit orders are $19.95. I would not recommend ShareBuilder for anything other than for a long term investment plan in which you want to dollar cost average your positions. Also, ShareBuilder has been known for having a lot of free money promotions (follow the link for an explanation on how they work and for promotional codes).

Did I leave out your favorite brokerage firm? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

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6 Responses to “Broker Commission Fee Schedule Comparison”

  1. Thatedeguy says:

    Another that deserves mention is buyandhold.com. It’s along the same path as sharebuilder, but you pay a monthly fee and get two free trades a month. It also seems to have a little better selection.

  2. Bob says:

    I currently use MBTrading.com and am happy with it.They charge 0.01 per share upto 500 shares so that’s $1 for 100 shares and $5 for 500 shares.Just make sure not to ask for level II quotes or Option chain otherwise you could get hit with a fee.

    The minimum amount required is $2000.They have a desktop software that you need to download and install but the orders execute pretty fast.There service personel and support are also quite good and I get patched through to someone if i have any questions.

    Only drawback is they don’t participate in Yodlee so you can’t integrate them into your one stop view of all your financial data.

  3. Easy E says:

    Firstrade.com It’s good, and cheap. $6.95 trades and free mutual fund investing

    • vittorio says:

      watch out for delayed quotes with this broker and their recalcitrance in fixing bugs in their trading platform.

  4. Larry Kasoff says:

    I would add:

    TradeKing and SogoInvest.

    They both have ultra low commissions ($4.95/TradeKing and $3.00 at SogoInvest with $1.00 trades for the first 90 days), yet are not designed around the active trader like MB Trading.

  5. Hawkmoon Nine says:

    Scottrade has $7 trades, $500 min to open an account and no maint fees. No online deposits (you have to send a check in or wire money to your account).

    Banc of America has $14 trades ($10 if you have a BofA checking account and $7 if you are an Advantage customer). Plus they have dividend reinvestment with no fees. There are other fees sometimes, but most can be waived by meeting conditions. They are new to the discount brokerage game.

    I don’t know if Etrade still has their $25 quarterly maint fee that I left them for (3 plus years ago).


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